I made a big announcement today! After 30 years teaching in public schools and 16 years of business, I am preparing to retire. I turn 70 next spring and that seems like a good time to relax a bit. I have been blessed to work with thousands of students. Many of them have become friends when they grew up. I’ve worked with three generations of several families. I could not ask for a better “job”.
It is my hope that there is another teacher out there, who would like to continue what I’ve begun. We have served students from 4 to 77 years old, struggling students, bored students, excited and inspired students. We’ve had students from as Raymond, Elma, Yelm and Morton and most towns in between on our weekly schedule. We’ve had students from Russia, Saudi Arabia, New York and other distant places spend a few sessions with us in the summer.
Our lovely building has 4 classrooms on the main floor as well as a larger space in the basement. We’ve offered science workshops and Lego Robotics classes down there. There have been times when we’ve had 6 teachers working at the same time! There’s more to by told about this fine, old home. Watch for a coming page dedicated to the home and the sale of the business.
Our building was built in 1923 in the Historic Edison District of Centralia. Its design incorporated elements of popular designs of the day, from the “dog-eared” ridges of its high roof to the wide, front porch with a 40″ wide front door, heavy corbels and semi-circular roof. For the first 83 years of its life it served as home to a few families. It was always well cared for and stood tall as many people traveled 1st Street between downtown and Fords Prairie.
In 2007, this fine, old home became the home of The Freeman Center. Today, it includes four classrooms (formerly known as Living Room, Dining Room, Bedroom and Den). The long-neglected basement was renovated into a “Science Laboratory”. Today, it is not uncommon to see young students learning to read, older students working on math or language, high school students learning Algebra while a group of students are in the basement building rockets or Lego robots.
This is what happens when a guy has a shop, access to wood, a bit of free time and a wild imagination! The idea sprung from a discussion of geometry which included using the angles and proportions of a pencil to create problems for students to solve. A few weeks later, a giant pencil was born. It is 24′ tall and 2′ in diameter. The body is made from 12″x 1/2″ recycled cedar. The ferrule is three pieces of sheet metal, shaped and riveted together. The current eraser is made from a 40 gallon drum which was made in Greece. The current point was turned from laminated wood which was recycled from the pipes of a 1906 theater pipe organ. The tip is actually the end of a metal pipe from the same pipe organ. It is made from a zinc and lead alloy so it looks a lot like graphite!
Students who work hard at The Freeman Center not only improve their grades in school and develop skills and strategies to help them succeed in life but they can also earn “cruises” in vintage cars. They are invited to take friends and/or family members for the ride and stop for ice-cream along the way.
Along the way, the topics of conversation range from local history and old cars, to their hopes and dreams for their future. It is a time enjoyed by all.
I received another wonderful email last week:
I wanted to tell you what I heard from [my daughter’s] principle last week. I had heard this story from [my daughter], but to hear it the second time I knew it really happened! [My daughter] and her combined class of 7th and 8ith graders … apparently had some class time to catch up on any work they had. Another girl asked [my daughter] if she would help her study for a Math test. This young lady is Russian, English is NOT her first language. The teacher was so impressed with the way [my daughter] worked with her, that she shared it with the principle.
So, [my daughter] comes to The Freeman Center at 9 years old, because she was not doing well in Math (or Reading). I needed her to be up to the standards of The Centralia Christian School in that Fall of 2012. And now as an 8th grader, one of the teachers is amazed at [my daughter’s] ability in helping a student with the math that she learned as a 7th grader!! I give complete credit to you and the staff that has been with her through the time she has been there. Your methods of teaching and reaching kids has really come through with [my daughter]. She has confidence to help a fellow student. All last year, even though she was not coming to the center, [my daughter] would talk about how she knew that it was because of Mr. Freeman teaching her this or that.
I am also so very thankful that Mr. Keahey was able to have [my daughter] come for help in math. It was amazing to me that she went to school all week, I take her to tutoring for the first time in awhile, on a Friday afternoon and later, she came out to the car with a BIG smile on her face, happy to do math for an hour!! Wow! What can I say. A great teacher, spent that hour with [my daughter].